Last Updated: February 20, 2022, 3:13 pm

OPINION | Utah and its trash air quality

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Air quality in Utah continues to worsen. Elissa Aguayo | Sun News Daily.


I know what you’re thinking, you’ve already heard it a million times. Utah’s air quality is atrocious. I am not here to reinstate why and how our air is at this point, but I am here to give my two cents as my lungs and skin continue to take a beating from the air quality.

Air pollution is terrible for all living organisms; humans, animals and plants. It is a threat to our health. According to Environmental Defense Fund, nine out of 10 people breathe unhealthy air, and air pollution is now the biggest environmental risk for early death.

According to Your Utah, Your Future, most of today’s air pollution comes from vehicle exhaust. It is predicted homes, offices and commercial buildings will be the ruling factor of pollution in 2050.

In Utah, we have minimal forms of public transportation, and most destinations you can’t get to without driving a car. I understand it, no one wants to walk three miles to the closest grocery store and haul the groceries home afterwards. I have noticed the normalization of electric vehicles, although this is great, not everyone can afford an electric vehicle. The average cost for an electric vehicle is $56,437.

We all say we care about the air quality but do we actually care? Clearly, the answer is no because if everyone cared, we would see a change rather than the latter. We would see pure blue skies again, our skin wouldn’t feel tight and itchy, we would breathe in and feel clean air fill our lungs. Whether you are noticing the effects or avoiding them, they are there, and they are affecting your life.

As a student at Dixie State University, I get to live in St. George for more than half of the year, and when I am here, I notice and feel very little effects of air pollution. As I drive to northern Utah from St. George, I can’t help but notice the air continuously looking worse the more north I am. When I am in northern Utah, I get so many red air quality alerts that I have to turn off notifications. My lungs were practically begging me to wear a mask, not because of COVID-19, but because of smog, inversion and air quality. Masks can help with protection of the lungs, but how do I protect my skin from harmful air? There is no way, but we are continuously told to go outside to get the vitamin D we need and crave. I feel like I have to sacrifice my being due to the air quality to get vitamin D in my system and that is not how it should be.

I don’t undermine or doubt those trying to make a difference by doing little things every day, but we need everyone on board to see a change. I am not telling you to buy an electric car but stop taking unnecessary drives around town, begin to carpool as often as you can, turn off your engine when sitting in the car, consider adjusting the amount of pollution your house is putting off, and even planting more trees can help. I know I am sick of the effect air pollution has on me and the earth, and you should be too.

As long as you are doing your part, that is the best you can do. We need our government officials to work on this by providing funds to public transportation, make electric cars affordable for the public, and continue to provide the public with the upmost information. We all can contribute to a healthier state and a healthier earth.

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